The International Politics of Development

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Course Description: 

What does development mean? Who wants development and why? How have power structures shaped which strategies are applied over time and across regions? How does the interaction of different actors affect development?

This course studies the debates around development from a specifically political angle. We will begin with the conceptualization of development and critical debates around what development means by following the history of theories of development. Then we explore the interaction between various actors involved in the politics of development, including governments, donor country’s domestic aid agencies, international organizations, business, and social movements. In doing so, we will also delve into the politics of choosing different strategies of development. Finally, we will engage with literature and development practice on a series of topics selected as a class, such as aid, debt, inequality, sustainable development, policy diffusion, international finance, migration, conflict, social policy, and others. Participants will rotate leading the sessions and discussions throughout the course. Given that the course engages with both critical theories and more practical dimension of the politics of development, participants can develop their research papers in the direction most suitable to them.

Learning Outcomes: 

Participants in the course will:
• Critically engage with a diverse range of theoretical approaches and understand the different underlying assumptions behind these approaches
• Generate dialogue between different approaches in their writing and class discussions
• Refine skills for presentations and facilitation of discussion to assist with future teaching
• Improve their ability to write original research



Participation – 20%
Given the seminar style of the course, active participation in class discussions will be a core part of the learning and assessment for the course. Participants will also post questions about the readings to an online forum before class at least once a week, which will be evaluated as a part of the participation grade.
Presentation/facilitate session discussion – 20%
Each participant will lead one session of the course, including a brief presentation of the reading and at least one additional reading. Following the presentation, the participant will facilitate the class discussion. Participants will be asked to indicate when they intend to present by the end of the first week.
Position papers – 30%
For three weeks of the semester, participants will write a 2-3 page paper analyzing the perspectives in at least two of the readings for that week or other relevant readings (to be selected with the instructor in advance). The paper should be submitted at least 12 hours before the class session. Participants will be asked to indicate when they intend to write position papers by the end of the second week.
Draft of final paper and presentation at workshop (week of March 19) – 20%
Each participant will present the draft of their final paper and serve as a discussant for another participant’s draft in a workshop format. The drafts must be circulated to the class three days before the presentation.
Final paper – 30%
The final paper should be a research paper that relates to a topic or theoretical angle covered in the course. The student should discuss the planned topic during a meeting with the instructor by the end of January.

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